Innovative Leadership Thinking
Stereotypes have meant that Bigen Africa operates in the traditionally male domain of infrastructural-development consultancy. But Bigen Africa, a multinational firm that operates throughout Africa, refuses under Dr Khoza’s leadership to bow down to, or be limited by, such stereotypes. “I am particularly ardent about increasing female representation in business, both within my own organisation and in the industry in general. Fast-tracking of black management, especially women, is a priority,” she emphasises. However, her mandate to empower transcends the workplace and business. “In a private capacity, I have enabled several disadvantaged children in order that they may be equipped with essential skills. I believe that education is the only tool young people have for improving their lives and those of others, starting with their own communities.” According to her, it is this mantra which forms the basis of Bigen Africa’s Bursary Scheme.
What is leadership, particularly in a diverse and dynamic space such as that which Dr Khoza occupies? “For me, industry leadership has two ends and it means both providing sound infrastructure development solutions and making worthwhile socioeconomic contributions in the project areas, in addition to taking the lead in the industry through innovative thinking,” she points out. Thus, in the international infrastructure development arena, the name Dr Snowy Khoza is synonymous with game-changing and thought-leading infrastructure development. That is not all, for even the sky is not the limit for her. “I impart to my team the vision of aiming for excellence in developing infrastructure that will improve the quality of life for all. It has been, and continues to be, my vision to ensure that we have the capability to provide innovative, value-driven solutions for clients in the public and private sectors.” In that respect, she is a keen encourager of the constant identification of industry needs and adaptation to them. This is in addition to the development of an intimate understanding of the requirements of governments, local authorities and other stakeholders.
Dr Khoza digresses to dwell on the more mundane tasks of leading a multinational company to a healthy bottom line. “Under my leadership, and with the support of the Board, Bigen Africa has grown remarkably over the last few years, largely as a result of a unique business approach which interlocks world-class, best-practice development finance, engineering and management consulting expertise aimed at providing the best value in the market.” In steering the Bigen Africa ship, Dr Khoza has had many successful ventures on the journey. These include increasing penetration into new sectors and targeting new clients, partners and geographic markets, improving and expanding the organisation’s product range, and growing business in Ghana, Zambia, Namibia and Ethiopia, as well as in the South African provinces of the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal. The list is endless and still growing!
A Development Activist at Heart
Dr Khoza’s success, prowess and experience in business augur well for the future. She is a seasoned executive and acknowledged strategist with remarkable business acumen honed as a result of 25 years of management and directorship positions in the South African public and private sectors. Prior to her tenure at Bigen Africa, Dr Khoza was group executive at the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) for 12 years, working in various operational divisions. She is the founding continental chair of Knowledge Management Africa (KMA). She is a pioneer in many respects.
To conclude, Dr Khoza indicates that, behind the successful business leader, is a development activist at heart. “I am committed to supporting South Africa and Africa to achieve their potential in improving the quality of life of all our people,” she emphasises. “We [Bigen Africa] are at the forefront of infrastructure engineering, programme management, and development finance across a host of sectors. I will always be passionate about, and committed to, the delivery of development that impacts socioeconomic outcomes such as job creation, poverty eradication, skills development, better health, ownership and accountability through any infrastructure development programme.” Having achieved so much in just a fraction of a lifetime, it is no surprise that she is recognised nationally and internationally for sharing her expertise and knowledge in this area.
An Industry Pioneer
If one considers her most recent accolade, namely a Continental Winner at the 2014 Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government Awards, to be the pinnacle of her journey, then you will have to think again. For Dr Snowy Joyce Khoza, CEO of Bigen Africa, the recognition is merely the first step towards fulfilling her mandate of empowering herself and others. Dr Khoza is a champion of women in business and has no intention of letting the baton fall until the mandate is fulfilled.
True to her mission, Dr Khoza adopts a positive approach in all that she does, which includes talent development in her immediate circles, in her organisation through encouraging and rewarding excellence, as well as allowing opportunities for personal development. “Under my stewardship, leveraging the capabilities of the workforce has become a vital aspect of our business approach,” she reveals. This means that high-potential people are added to the team and their talents optimised through a detailed career-development programme. She explains: “This has been designed to align business objectives with employee expectations of career success and relies heavily on knowledge transfer by means of one-on-one-mentoring and coaching.” It follows with such a leader keen on mentorship and coaching, Bigen Africa has received many industry recognition awards, including being named as the 2012 Mentoring Company of the Year at the Engineering Excellence Awards ceremony of Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA). Bigen Africa’s engineer Kobus Viljoen went on to win the 2013 Mentor of the Year award.
FOCUS ON EXCELLENCE |
By Andrew Ngozo